Australian welterweight boxer Jeff Horn.
Australian welterweight boxer Jeff Horn. DAVE HUNT

Mystery, intrigue surrounds Horn v Pacquiao fight

BOXING: The battle for Brisbane to host the Jeff Horn-Manny Pacquiao world title fight continues in a fog of intrigue with major government sports agencies in the United Arab Emirates yet to become involved in a threatened change of venue.

While world champ Pacquiao broadsided Horn and his promoters with a tweet on Sunday that his next fight would be in the UAE, inquiries by The Courier-Mail to major sports bodies in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi yesterday drew a blank about their support for a fight there.

Despite weeks of negotiations that seemed to have Suncorp Stadium all but locked in to host Australia's biggest ever boxing event on April 23, Pacquiao's spokesman Michael Koncz announced in Abu Dhabi on the weekend that the fight would be in that city or Dubai.

But yesterday both the Dubai Sports Council and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council were unable to shed any light on backing the promotion.

Attempts by The Courier-Mail to reach Diaa Al Khatib, the Dubai-based chief executive of tourism company Al Afaq, said to be handling the multimillion-dollar fight on Pacquiao's behalf, were unsuccessful.

Horn suspects Pacquiao and his team are playing mind games and says Pacquiao's subsequent tweet on Monday asking fans to pick his next opponent were "frustrating" and "annoying" as he believed the deal for him to fight for Pacquiao's WBO welterweight title was almost finalised.

Tourism and Events Queensland, Brisbane Marketing and Suncorp Stadium have pledged huge financial support for the Acacia Ridge schoolteacher's challenge to one of the greatest boxers of all time.

Horn, 29, still expects to face Pacquiao, 38, at Suncorp on April 23 and representatives of Pacquiao's promoter Bob Arum are tentatively due in Brisbane on Monday week to inspect the stadium, review ticketing arrangements and visit the telecasters Fox Sports.

Horn was on the second day of a promotional tour of north Queensland on Tuesday, visiting schools in Innisfail, Tully and Ingham.

He planned to finish with dinner alongside Cowboys star Johnathan Thurston and coach Paul Green.

Horn's promoter, Dean Lonergan, said he still expected to finalise details for the fight in Brisbane within the next week.

"Michael Koncz has looked at other options, and he is well within his rights to do so," Lonergan said.

"But Bob Arum is Pacquiao's exclusive promoter and he will still make the final call in consultation with Manny."

News Corp Australia

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